Why the Cavs should trade No. 1 to Minny

We’re less than 48 hours from the NBA Draft, and I think the Cleveland Cavaliers should trade the No. 1 pick to Minnesota. Not for Kevin Love, but for Derrick Williams, the No. 9 and No. 26 selections.

For what it’s worth, the Cavs offered up the No. 1 pick and the No. 4 picks in the 2011 and 2012 drafts, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters, for Love, only for the Wolves to decline, according to ESPN’s Andy Katz. I’m not even sure I like that deal for Cleveland. Trade 3 impact players for 1, albeit a much better one, who played 18 games last year.

Anyways, here’s a few reasons the Cavs should dump the No. 1 for Williams & Co.

This draft sucks.

We’ve all read the reports in the media that quote league execs and scouts who say this is one of the worst NBA Draft classes in years. There’s no LeBron James, no Dwight Howard, no Kyrie Irving, probably not even an Anthony Davis.

Cleveland’s, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford, narrowed its targets at No. 1 to Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel and Maryland’s Alex Len. Both are athletic bigs with some of the same question marks, namely health and limited offensive skills.

My feeling is, if you’re not 100% sold on a guy, cut your losses and play the safe way out. Plenty of teams have inquired about the No. 1 selection — most persistently Minnesota, Oklahoma City and Portland, according to Ford — so why not work the sides against each other and see who wants it most?

Derrick Williams is not a worthless piece.

Sure, Williams has not stood out in his first 2 seasons in Minnesota, but, statistically speaking, he’s improving. He averaged 12.0 points per game last year in only 24.6 minutes, fourth-most on a team whose leading scorer, Kevin Love, only played 18 games. His 14.6 PER is slightly below average, but was fifth-best on the Wolves, behind Nikola Pekovic (62 games), Love, Andrei Kirilenko (64) and Ricky Rubio (57).

Per 36 minutes, he was a 17.6-points and 8.1-rebounds guy last season. He’s 6’8″ with fantastic athleticism, who can play the 3 in bigger lineups and the 4 in small ball. There’s still plenty of concerns: his 43% shooting is reminiscent of a guard, not a 6’8″ athletic type who should play at the rim. And he shot 33% from 3 last season, but even more concerning was his 2.5 attempts per 24.6 minutes.

Williams improved in just about every major statistical category over his rookie season. After the All Star break last year, D-Will averaged close to 15 points per alongside Rubio. Imagine what he could do with Kyrie & Co.

Also, he’s still 22 and was the No. 2 overall pick in 2011. And he’s got Josh Smith potential.

More picks, more picks, more picks!

OK, so I’m still high on Williams. But you also add 2 picks in this year’s draft — Nos. 9 and 26 — giving you 5 picks in the top 33. At No. 9, the Cavs could consider 7-footers like Steven Adams from Pitt, Kelly Olynyk from Gonzaga or Cody Zeller from Indiana (oh, dear God, no), swing players like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope from Georgia, Sergey Karasev from Russia (whom the Cavs reportedly like) Michael Carter-Williams from Syracuse or C.J. McCollum from Lehigh.

My point: There’s still plenty of good options at No. 9, and you also pick up a late first-rounder at 26. And who’s to say all four of those picks can’t be additional trade chips to attract temporary veteran talent, i.e., a Luol Deng, a Paul Pierce, a Danny Granger and so on.

Lots and lots of options, Cavs fans. Stay tuned.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickJDuprey.


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